Ashall: Handforth’s brains giving Fax the edge

Paul Handforth
Paul Handforth

Halifax’s Craig Ashall has said having Paul Handforth at hooker means the Championship leaders are often “one step ahead” of the opposition.

Handforth, the club’s vice captain and main playmaker, has started the last two games at number nine, with Ashall dropping back to the loose forward berth he occupied for most of 2012.

And after Fax posted their best performance of the season to beat Hunslet 38-6 and go top of the table last weekend, Ashall admitted he felt the change had been good for Karl Harrison’s side.

“I am an out and out 13, in an ideal world, that’s where I would want to play,” said Ashall, whose younger brother Karl is also a candidate for the hooking role.

“Karl’s asked me to do a job at nine this year, but I am a loose forward, that’s where I’ve always played.

“I feel I am adapting to hooker, but Paul is smarter than me and he’s more than used to that position.

“At this level, you need to be very smart to play there and be one step ahead of the defence and he gives us that.

“If and when the time comes and Karl asks me to go back in at hooker, I’ll do the best job I can for the team though.

“I’d play anywhere he asked me to.”

Ashall was happy with Fax’s effort against the Hawks, who arrived at the Shay on the back of successive league wins, but insisted there is more to come.

“I thought we were terrific in the first half; really ruthless in defence,” said Ashall, ahead of Sunday’s long-haul trip to play Whitehaven at the Recreation Ground.

“I think that was the best we have played for a few weeks, we really stuck to the plan Karl gave us.

“We managed to get ourselves back into an arm wrestle a little bit in that second half, which was disappointing, but we still came up with a good score.

“We were gutted with the six against, we wanted to nil them and send a message out to everyone: That we are top of the league and top of the league for a reason.

“Long may it continue now.”